A MEE­TING SPACE

A 19th cen­tu­ry mar­ket hall which, in recent times, has be­come the bea­ting heart of Bor­deaux’s so­cial and cultu­ral as­so­cia­tions.

Bordeaux Moments - - Le Lieu / A Place -

In 1886, the Bor­deaux mayor, Al­fred Da­ney, inau­gu­ra­ted a new mar­ket hall bet­ween the who­le­sale Mar­ché des Ca­pu­cins, built 5 years before, and the for­mer ci­ty ram­parts. The Mar­ché des Douves (a douve is a moat) is the on­ly trace left in Bor­deaux to­day of a style of ar­chi­tec­ture ins­pi­red by the cen­tral Pa­ris mar­ket halls built bet­ween 1852 and 1870 by the ar­chi­tect Vic­tor Bal­tard. His uti­li­ta­rian prin­ciples did away with the 18th cen­tu­ry’s ar­chi­tec­tu­ral he­ri­tage, using brick, wood and glass to create a “cur­tain wall” that clim­bed to the top over va­rious le­vels, crea­ting a vast open space, co­ve­red by a most­ly vi­sible iron struc­ture. The migration of who­le­sa­lers to the MIN of Brienne and the des­truc­tion of the Ca­pu­cins mar­ket hall’s me­tal­lic struc­ture in 1959, ma­king way for a concrete struc­ture, fo­re­sha­do­wed a sad en­ding for the Mar­ché des Douves. Al­though it was fal­ling apart, it was used un­til 1985, which meant that it las­ted long en­ough to be consi­de­red part of Bor­deaux’s 19th cen­tu­ry he­ri­tage, and the­re­fore in need of pre­ser­va­tion; all that re­mai­ned was to find a pur­pose for it. Fi­nal­ly, in 2004, a hand­ful of cultu­ral­ly and so­cial­ly-min­ded as­so­cia­tions took a shi­ning to this aban­do­ned mu­ni­ci­pal buil­ding, and went in search of an ar­chi­tect and sce­no­gra­pher from the neigh­bou­rhood in their fight to turn this old hall into a mee­ting space, a works­pace and a place for re­pre­sen­ting lo­cal ini­tia­tives. In their eyes, if eve­ry lit­tle town had such spaces, why shouldn’t a neigh­bou­rhood of bet­ween twen­ty and thir­ty thou­sand re­si­dents have one, par­ti­cu­lar­ly a neigh­bou­rhood which lies bet­ween St Mi­chel, Ca­pu­cins and St Jean: his­to­ri­cal and na­tu­ral mel­ting pots. The pro­ject took shape, the mayor's of­fice agreed, and the 50 01 Stu­dio d'ar­chi­tec- ture team was se­lec­ted for the qua­li­ty of pu­blic spaces in their de­si­gns. A box made out of glass panes and pa­nel­ling was built un­der the hall's struc­ture, contai­ning a ca­fé, a mul­ti­me­dia area, mee­ting rooms and a large mul­ti- pur­pose pla­teau, with eve­ry­thing en­ve­lo­ped by a large walk­way that main­tains a di­rect link with the ex­te­rior. You can see across the struc­ture and run into people of all back­grounds, which was the ini­tial po­li­ti­cal idea of the pro­ject. Users of this space are in­vi­ted to step out of their lit­tle box to meet- if not work with- each other. The doors are- in both a li­te­ral and fi­gu­ra­tive sense- open, and nu­me­rous

ini­tia­tives and events are tied to this place, crea­ted by people from across the ci­ty. Lan­guages mix, a contemporary mu­sic group from the conser­va­to­ry fol­lows a si­gn lan­guage ca­fé, the Têt fes­ti­val pre­cedes an Ira­nian Na­tio­nal Ho­li­day ce­le­bra­tion, hip hop dan­cers run into mem­bers of the Com­mis­sion for His­to­ri­cal Me­mo­ry... Aside from cer­tain rare fes­ti­val events (Cha­huts- a fes­ti­val for spo­ken word, Zi­ne­fest- a desk­top pu­bli­shing event), you can see what is hap­pe­ning there short­ly be­fo­re­hand by che­cking out the web­site. Open spaces, a di­verse po­pu­la­tion, last-mi­nute oc­cu­rances: the spi­rit of the mar­ket is still alive. Mar­ché des Douves 4 rue des Douves 33800 Bor­deaux Tel: 05 35 38 16 06 - douves.org Opens to the ge­ne­ral pu­blic and as­so­cia­tion-run ca­fé opens Weds-fri, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-7pm, Sa­tur­day 10am-2pm

Jar­din des Rem­parts

These dis­crete gar­dens be­side the rem­nants of the ci­ty wall (14th-17th cen­tu­ries) sit next to the Mar­ché des Douves. Plane trees, an ora­to­ry, old traces of de­fence sys­tems and two contemporary fres­cos pro­vide an es­cape from the ci­ty, right in the heart of it. Stair ac­cess on Rue Mar­bo­tin and at the end of Rue des Douves April-may 8.30am-7.30pm, June-aug. 8.30am-8.30pm, Sep.-oct. and midFeb-march 8.30pm-6.30pm, Nov.-midFeb. 8.30am-5.30pm.

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